24 April 2012

The Google Drive is finally here

I haven't had much of a chance to start playing with this yet (they have to prepare my drive before I can play with it actually...whatever that means), but wanted to go ahead and post about it...

After being talked about forever and ever and ever...well at least for the last two years, Google has finally launched the Google Drive.  You can read their actual launch post here, but here are the highlights as relayed via their post:
  • automatic 5GB of storage for free
    • You can upgrade for more storage at fairly reasonable prices (about $30 a year for 25GB and so on)
  • It integrates easily with other Google Products, such as Google Docs 
    • You can upload anything--PDF, Images, Spreadsheets--and have folks offer comments on it without it having to be in Google Format
  • Access from anywhere including mobile devices via apps (they say they're still working on the iOS app but it's coming)
  • Search for anything--this is a cool feature you can even search for text within a scanned image via Optical Character Recognition.  And they're using image recognition software so it will recognize say photos of the Andes mountains when you search for it.
  • They are also working with third party developers so that you can collaborate on say...webpage design with files stored in Drive via Chrome apps.
There's also a great write up by ReadWriteWeb (who have used it) on what it offers and looks like.

Obviously GDrive enters an already somewhat crowded marked with ADrive, Dropbox, Amazon Storage, Microsoft's new project (which I missed) etc. But...it seems like it has some benefits, as well as some downsides.

Obviously there are folks that are going to be concerned about the privacy factor.  This new drive will just give Google one more place to find out even more about you.  What will they do with the information?  Well they swear they won't do anything like sell it and I haven't had problems with it (and half of my life lives in Google) but this is something that you'll want to think about yourself.  Does having lots of your life and files in one place with one company work for you? Do you want to give Google just one more piece of your life?  It is a big question...

For me...I'm willing to give it a try because of some of the positive factors, such as the enhanced collaboration abilities which will be great for working with colleagues on documents, videos, photos, whatever the case may be.  And just to see how it works.  Am I going to keep everything on the GDrive?  Probably not...I do like having aspects of my life in a few different places.  And not all of my life needs to live in Google Domains. 

Once I actually get in and play with it I'll post again.

19 April 2012

CIL 2012 presentation

My apologies folks I honestly meant to get this up two weeks ago and I didn't....but here it is now.

For posterity's sake:
In March 2012 I gave a presentation at Computers in Libraries titled "Getting to Yes After the Conference" (the CIL program called it "Getting to yes after CIL" but that wasn't my call.) In this presentation I shared tips and tricks that I've learned over the last 5 plus years of getting support for projects after the conference and buy in from administration.  For the first time ever I've also typed up my notes (hopefully they'll make some sort of sense to someone other than me.)

If you have questions, comments, suggestions, etc. feel free to leave a comment

Slide notes:

Slide 1:  I am me.

Slide 2:  Why am I talking to you guys about this?  Because selling ideas after a conference can be difficult.  You know it, I know it, well all know it.  So what do you do?  How do you get your admin to buy into what you're selling?  Well I'm going to share some tips and tricks I've learned over the past few years that can help you out.  First thing that you should do before you get back:  takes note and names.  yes take names.  if you hear a presentation or an idea that you like get their info so that you can ask them questions later.

(look below for two bonus content slides)

Slide 3: 
This is the most important thing that I can think of:  know who your audience is: who do you need to sell to, what do they like, brief convo, live demo, written report?
have a friend on the management team, someone that supports what you're selling 
Slide 4: 
users matter.  cool things are great, but if it isn't what your users are going to do or use and you already know it (example you work in a library that only serves the amish, don't push text messaging.) 
know why you're suggesting that the library invest time and energy in it. make sure it's meeting a need.  make sure you discuss what it will take to get it going...because
Slide 5:  
remember the investment:  even if it's free, it is isn't free.  it's like free kittens..and a bunny.  there's still time and money involved in it (mostly in the form of staff)  if you've got a small library and your systems department consists of one guy carrying everything but the kitchen sink, don't try to sell something that will require a lot of time and energy on their part to get going/maintain.

Slide 6: 
sell it to your colleagues. let them get excited about it. the more backing you have the better it's likely to go.
share with them what you learned, share slides, tweets, whatever works best, but let them be advocates for you as well.  if they're interested and support you it helps.
this can also include non co-workers, find someone to brainstorm with, how to approach the problem to get at a solution. people on campus, people online wherever.
in other words don't go it alone

Slide 7: 
find someone that can help you sell it.  your yin to your yang.  spock to your kirk

Slide 8: 
free is your friend.  if you can do it for free try it.  its a great way to sell a new service to admin.  down the road you can always say look it's working here's why we should move to this pay for service.  only go for pay for first if it's the only option or clearly the best option for what you're trying to do.
Slide 9: 
explore what's out there.  what's new, perhaps it simplifies the process, offers more, makes it easier to do, it improves efficiency 
Slide 10:
be willing and prepared to fail.  things aren't going to work.  it's a fact of life.  live from it. and learn from it.
don't be afraid to fail.  not everything is going to make it through the first time, come back a second and third time. if it's a good idea stick with it. listen to why folks are saying they aren't interested in it

Slide 11: 
give back to the community.  you've tried something. it worked. it didn't work.  let others know, even if its just a blog post.

Slide 12:  last unwritten rule and this depends on your pow, do first ask questions later--only for certain things though. don't redesign the webpage without telling people. 

Slide 13:
Slide 14:

And as an added bonus, two extra slides! (since it was pointed out that I neglected to include something from "Lord of the Rings"  These slides would be right at the beginning of the presentation.

Sometimes it seems like when we get back from conferences and try to talk to administration about what we want to do it's like talking to the Ents from "Lord of the Rings"

"Harummm....you want to do what with what?  Hmmm....we'll have to gather the ents to discuss it.  Don't worry we'll have things a decision for you in the next two to three years"

Or it's worse and it's like trying to wage war with these guys?  Not pretty is it?

17 April 2012

Book Review--"Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians)"

Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians)
First Second
George O'Connor
January 2012

Our tale begins in the land of the dead.  We hear what it's like when we die--how we meet Hermes who guides us to the river Styx, the need for a coin to pass down the river, the river Lethe where we forget everything, and the waiting...the endless waiting. But this is only the beginning of the story.  But the true tale is about the abduction of Persephone, also known as Kore, by the Lord of the Dead, Hades. And the destruction and sorrow it causes on the mortal world as Persephone's mother, Demeter, searches the world over for her.

And what a tale it is. I've always been fascinated by Greek and Romany mythology and I love how O'Connor puts this book together. It's an easy read, but he gives so much information to the reader and lays it out much better than the boring old books I remember reading about Greek myths. O'Connor makes the world come to life by the story he weaves and by giving personality to the gods that we meet so that we can understand why they did what they did. In every other tale Hades comes off as a villain, but here we see he really isn't. He's just lonely and looking for a chance to have a shot at a relationship. This is an excellent book to introduce Greek mythology and now I really want to read the other books in the series as well.

One of my favorite parts of the book is actually at the end, the little feature at the back that talks about the different characters, who they are, and other details to help you learn more about the Greek world. Even better, from a librarian perspective, they have a bibliography! A list of websites and recommended reading list to go to get more information.

I really like the artwork in this book. It has such great use of color and shadow in the depictions of the world, especially the underworld. Instead of depicting it all flames and fire (which seems to be something some artists like these days) it's more of a darker, almost hopeless place...much like it's described as in the original myths. It might be a bit creepy for really young readers, but middle schoolers and above will enjoy it. I enjoyed most of the character design, although at times it looks like Hades has a goatee (I think it would actually fit him well) and he looks a bit...well too much like an emo kid. I mean I know he's depressed and all, but..couldn't he be less of a blue shade?  Overall though I do like the depiction of the other characters, especially the depiction of the many handed ones, the Hekatonchieres.

This is the perfect companion for people that have been enjoying the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and want to know more about the Greek/Roman gods and how they work. It would be ok for elementary school age (3rd and above) but they would probably need to read it with a parent. But this would be an excellent book for a middle or high schooler (or even adult) that wants to learn more about the world of Greek mythology. I can't wait to read the previous volumes and to read what comes next.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

A review copy of this book was provided by Gina at FirstSecond.